CHESTERTOWN — Anna Farley and her Bel Air field hockey teammates had never played in a state championship game.
No Bobcats team had reached the final since 1977, the only time Bel Air claimed a coveted crown. So this year’s Bobcats were determined to make the most of their appearance.
It took a first-half goal scored by Westminster for Bel Air to realize the moment.
“We knew nothing about Westminster coming in, so we were very unsure of what to expect,” Farley said. “After that first goal we knew we were going to have a really tough game on our hands. But after that first goal that we scored, it definitely picked us right back up.”
That goal came from Farley, who finished with two goals and scored the game-winner with less than three minutes to play in Bel Air’s 2-1 win Saturday at Washington College that gave the Bobcats the 3A state title.
The Bobcats (10-7) celebrated their first state title since 1977, while Westminster (13-7) fell just short of capturing its 10th crown and fourth since 2010.
Owls freshman Haleigh Moore scored in the final 10 minutes of the first half, a reward after her team controlled the ball and attacked Bel Air’s defense for nearly the entire opening frame.
But Farley got the Bobcats even just before the break on a hard slapshot from the top of the circle. And Westminster struggled to recover after that.
“At halftime, we said it’s a zero-zero game,” said Westminster coach Katie Corson. “It just stinks. I feel like we were dominating, it was just ... they capitalized, and they were able to finish. We had opportunities.”
Bel Air used Farley’s first score as momentum and took over in the second half, with Westminster’s defense hanging on to keep things deadlocked.
The Bobcats had seven corners in the half to the Owls’ two, and Farley converted No. 7 with 2:55 remaining.
The Owls put together more than one offensive surge in the second half. Midway through, freshman Veronica Maring lined up a shot inside the circle that rang off the far post — loud enough that many of Westminster’s fans thought their team had taken the lead. A few minutes later, the Owls sent another attempt just wide of the near post during a scrum inside the circle.
But Bel Air held, and Farley, who is committed to play field hockey and lacrosse at Georgetown in 2017, put her team in front after a nifty spin move near the top of the circle.
The Bobcats lost to Westminster in last year’s 3A semifinals, and this season first-year coach Emily Gryglewski had a group determined to return and make progress.
They knocked off Towson in overtime to win the 3A North title, then blanked Huntingtown 3-0 in the state semis to earn a trip to the Eastern Shore for the finals.
And Saturday they ended a 38-year drought with a thrilling win.
“Since we haven’t won in this long, it’s just crazy that we won it all today,” Farley said.
“Especially with this team and coach, it just really shows that field hockey is up-and-coming at Bel Air High School. And that, don’t mess with us.”
Goals: W-Haleigh Moore; B-Anna Farley 2.
Assists W-none; B-Karsyn Shek.
Saves: W-3 (Kerri Virtz); B-7 (Selena Garcia).
Halftime: Tied, 1-1.